How to Use NaNoWriMo to Promote Your Work

By Kathy Meis

As many of you know, NaNoWriMo is more than halfway over. Here’s to finishing those novels! For those of you not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. During November, participants are challenged to produce a 50,000-word novel. The goal is to motivate writers to get their stories out of their heads and on to the page. Begun in 1999, the event now has hundreds of thousands of participants and is overseen by a national non-profit organization that offers support, community (forums and pep talks from successful writers), and word-count tracking tools.

In addition to being an excellent exercise in creative productivity, NaNoWriMo can be a great way to share your work with readers and build your social following in a low key, but effective, way. It can be especially powerful if you are writing your first novel and trying to build an author platform from scratch. All you need to do is take a few minutes each day to share your NaNoWriMo journey. There is no downside to showing the world how hard you work at the craft of writing. Whether you’re new to NaNoWriMo or a veteran, here are a few tips and examples that will help you promote your work through this popular global event:

Show the world snippets of yourself. Take two minutes to post a photo or share a moment from your NaNoWriMo day. Are you a caffeine/soda/tea/water addict when you write? Do you eat chocolate/edamame/potato chips when you’re writing late at night? Do you listen to certain music, rock/R&B/indian/classical, while you’re writing? Do you have a sense of humor about the NaNoWriMo?


Okay, I can hear you asking, “Isn’t this all too superficial to share? Just chatter?” Look at some of the most successful author and celebrity social accounts. They draw people into their daily stories, humor and struggles. People can see themselves in these daily situations. They can relate, and this puts them at easy. It also often leads to engagement. “I’m a caffeine addict too!” or “I like the chocolate covered edamame when I’m writing at 1am!” And so the conversation begins…

Do a weekly blog about your journey. Keep it short and honest. Did you struggle or overcome a plot problem or character development issue today? Did you hit a wall? Did you get frustrated? Did you have a breakthrough? Invite people into “the story behind your story,” as we like to say at Bublish. Storytelling is a very powerful marketing tool and your journey through NaNoWriMo is a story worth telling. Structure your blog like you would a good scene.

Target your future readers. As you’re sharing your NaNoWriMo journey, take a few minutes to learn about where your future readers are hanging out socially. On every social platform, readers and writers organically organize themselves by groups and hashtags. For example, #NaNoWriMo is a hashtag for writers participating in the event. Go to the search bar on Twitter and type in this hashtag to see all the tweets around this topic. On Facebook, NaNoWriMo has an open group with more than 20,000 members. Your genre has hashtags and groups as well. For example, if you write science fiction, there are dozens of groups on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other social networks. Share and engage in these groups and see where you find your tribe. On Twitter (and now other social sites), you’ll find numerous hashtags for each genre – #scifi, #romance, #fantasy, #ya, #horror, #thriller, and #paranormal – are just a few. This gives you a way to engage with writers and readers who are interested in your genre.

As I wrote in a recent blog post, NaNoWriMo is important to readers, too. A number of bestselling books have come to market as a result of NaNoWriMo, including The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. But perhaps the coolest thing about NaNoWriMo is that “readers get to watch hundreds of thousands of writers commit to and then power through a one-month writing marathon, all in the name of storytelling. Readers are privy to the often painful, chaotic process of story creation.” Your NaNoWriMo journey is a story worth sharing with your future readers.  So in between those frantic writing sessions, take a few moments to show your future fans what you’re creating for them.

Kathy Meis is the founder and president of the social book discovery and commerce platform Bublish. She is a professional writer, editor and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries. Kathy is the founding editor of Forbes MediaCritic and a founding partner of PubSmart, a new kind of publishing conference located in Charleston, South Carolina. She also ghostwrites business books and is a frequent blogger on the subject of book promotion, author branding, social media and discoverability. In 2012, Kathy won the People’s Choice Award at the Startup Showcase at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Publishing Conference.